Forty-eight hours after Detroit, where he delivered the economic policy address that Republicans hoped would put him back on track, the real Donald Trump was back, again playing brinksmanship with the English language. From the Associated Press report out of Wilimington, N.C.:
The latest controversy to strike Trump's campaign arose, as they often do, out of an offhand quip at a boisterous campaign rally. Claiming falsely that [Democrat Hillary] Clinton wants to revoke the right to gun ownership guaranteed in the Constitution's Second Amendment, Trump said there would be "nothing you can do," if she's elected, to stop her from stacking the Supreme Court with anti-gun justices.
Then he added ambiguously: "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is — I don't know. But I'll tell you what: that will be a horrible day."
Was Trump suggesting gun owners take matters into their own hands if Clinton wins the White House? Or was he merely musing about the indisputably powerful influence of the gun lobby?
Like so many times before, Trump's supporters and opponents construed his comments in entirely different ways.
"Give me a break," Trump said hours later, insisting was referring to the power that voters hold. He told Fox News that "there can be no other interpretation."
But Democrats saw — and seized — an opportunity to reinforce the perception that Trump can't moderate the things that come out of his mouth, much less the decisions he'd make as president.
"I really, frankly couldn't believe he said it," said Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee. "Nobody who is seeking a leadership position, especially the presidency, the leadership of the country, should do anything to countenance violence, and that's what he was saying."
The most powerful response to Trump's latest gaffe might have come from an Atlanta resident with an iconic pedigree.
King, it must be noted, helped deliver the invocation at the Democratic National Convention on its final day, which featured Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech.
Meanwhile, it's been radio silence from the Georgia senators and congressmen who have endorsed Trump. The Washington Post has these two paragraphs on the pressure that Donald Trump is putting on his own supporters:
The pattern has repeated itself again and again. First come Trump’s attention-getting expressions. Then come the outraged reactions. The headlines follow. Finally, Trump, his aides and his supporters lash out at the media, accusing journalists of twisting his words or missing the joke. It happened last week, when Trump appeared to kick a baby out of a rally, then later insisted that he was kidding. It happened the week before, when he encouraged Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, then claimed he was just being sarcastic.
And with each new example, Trump’s rhetorical asides grow more alarming to many who hear them — and prompt condemnations from an ever-wider universe of critics. On Tuesday, for instance, even Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), one of Trump’s most ardent defenders, struggled to fully embrace his comments. Sessions insisted in an interview on CNN that Trump did not mean to encourage violence, but he acknowledged that Trump’s words were “awkwardly phrased.”
Real damage is being done by Trump's inability to become something other than a verbal Rorschach test. There is the short-term harm. For instance, this Insider post ledes on the GOP presidential nominee rather than this bit of news from the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — A new batch of State Department emails released Tuesday showed the close and sometimes overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department when Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.
The documents raised new questions about whether the charitable foundation worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department, a charge that Mrs. Clinton has faced in the past and has always denied.
Then there's the damage that awaits in November. Also from the New York Times:
In late July, 72 percent of Republican women said they would vote for Mr. Trump, a healthy majority, but far below the level won by the past three Republican presidential nominees. In 2012, Mitt Romney won 93 percent of Republican women. In 2008, John McCain won 89 percent, and four years earlier, George W. Bush won 93 percent.
In politically moderate swing states like Pennsylvania, which aides to Mr. Trump say are crucial to his victory, Mr. Trump’s standing with women over all is perilously low among registered voters: Just 27 percent of women back him, compared with 58 percent for Mrs. Clinton, according to a poll by Franklin & Marshall College.
You were safe enough last night, tuning into Michael Phelps' gold-medal performances last night. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., easily survived his primary re-election challenge from businessman Paul Nehlen, who had found himself the object of praise from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. From the Associated Press:
Ryan won by about 70 percentage points, based on unofficial results.
"We knew we were going to do well," Ryan said. "We got the votes we were hoping and expecting to get all along. The outcome is exactly what we were hoping for."
You'll note that the AJC account of Democrat Hillary Clinton's toe-in-the-water entry into Georgia has the dollar-figure in the "six figures." Let us lowball this and say $100,000. If that's the case, we're talking two, possibly three warm bodies and an intern.
Which means that, until proven to be something else, Georgia is likely to remain an ATM state for the Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton's campaign recently put out an updated list of bundlers who have helped her raise at least $100,000. Six are from Atlanta.
Included on the list of so-called "Hillblazers" for the first time time is Stephanie Davis, a former aide to Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and ex-executive director of Georgia Women for Change.
There's also Keith Mason, former chief of staff to then-Gov. Zell Miller and White House aide who's now retired from his partnership at Dentons, and Clyde Tuggle, senior vice president, chief public affairs and communications officer at the Coca-Cola Co.
The three others, Gordon Giffin, Pinney Allen and Daniel Halpern, were previously mentioned by the campaign. Giffin is a well-known fixture in Georgia Democratic circles -- a close ally to former Sen. Sam Nunn, he was co-chair of Michelle Nunn's Senate campaign and also served as U.S. ambassador to Canada under Bill Clinton. Allen is a parter at Alston and Bird and the former head of the Atlanta Girls School. Halpern co-chaired Kasim Reed's first mayoral bid and is now CEO of Jackmont Hospitality.